Enjoy the confetti; McCowan leads Mississippi State women to first SEC Tournament title

The No. 5 Bulldogs defeated Arkansas 101-70 Sunday in Greenville, South Carolina.

Posted: Mar 10, 2019 6:21 PM

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - When Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer climbed the ladder, snipped the net and rang a cowbell, the message was clear -- the Bulldogs were finally on top at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Teaira McCowan had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and No. 5 Mississippi State won its first SEC tournament title in five tries with a 101-70 pounding of Arkansas on Sunday.

Schaefer has cut down his share of nets in his career, having led the Bulldogs to the Final Four the past two seasons. This one, he acknowledged, was different.

"This is certainly special," he said with a smile, the net around his neck. "This is a first."

The Bulldogs (30-2) and McCowan scored the most points ever in an SEC Tournament title game -- and ended their own 0-4 mark when reaching the event finals. They took control with an 18-0 run in the first quarter and never gave the Razorbacks (20-14) hope for a comeback after losing the crown the last three years to South Carolina.

This time, regular-season SEC champ Mississippi State left little doubt about who's the league powerhouse. The Bulldogs were up by 20 at the half and 25 through three quarters on their way to their ninth straight win over the Razorbacks.

Mississippi State surpassed Georgia's 94 points in winning the 1986 event.

When it ended, confetti rained down on the court as Bulldog players and staffers celebrated like children out in the snow. "It's an unbelievable feeling," Mississippi State guard Jazzmun Holmes said.

Arkansas was the surprise of the tournament, a 10 seed upsetting seventh-seeded Georgia, the second-seeded Gamecocks and third-seeded Texas A&M to become the highest seed ever to make the finals.

But the Razorbacks didn't have enough to match up with Mississippi State's rebounding, defensive ferocity or McCowan, the 6-foot-7 SEC player of the year who was also named tournament MVP.

McCowan made 11 of 15 shots -- all of them close to the basket -- and had three of the Bulldogs' six blocks.

"We were literally drawing up plays in the dirt trying to find a way to stop her," Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. "We didn't have a chance."

She wasn't alone in the rout as Mississippi State finished with three players with 20 or more points.

Andra Espinoza-Hunter also scored 24 off eight 3-pointers while Bre'Amber Scott had 20 points off the bench.

Chelsea Dungee led Arkansas with 24 points. The Razorbacks looked finished Saturday night until going on a 17-0 run over the last seven minutes to beat the 15th-ranked Aggies 58-51.

But the Bulldogs had the biggest advantage in the SEC in McCowan and made steady use of it throughout the championship game. McCowan continually set herself up near the basket and waited for Jazzmun Holmes and Jordan Danberry to lob the ball in. From there, it was a simple layup drill for McCowan, who hit 9 of 11 shots in the opening 20 minutes.

McCowan's defensive presence also impacted the Razorbacks and Dungee. Instead of an open lane, Dungee was often met by McCowan and forced to alter her shot angle to get off an attempt.

Mississippi State made its share of mistakes -- pesky Arkansas had seven steals the first two quarters -- but typically got back on track by finding its center in McCowan.

Scott, filling in early after Anriel Howard picked up two fouls, had a perfect first half, making her four shots, three of them from behind the arc, for 13 points.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500286

Reported Deaths: 9968
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34281537
DeSoto32039402
Hinds31911626
Jackson24466379
Rankin21971390
Lee15501235
Madison14566279
Jones13825242
Forrest13438250
Lauderdale11984316
Lowndes11003188
Lamar10510135
Pearl River9494237
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Hancock7727126
Washington7418157
Oktibbeha7139131
Monroe6765176
Warren6679176
Pontotoc6655102
Neshoba6625206
Panola6511131
Marshall6460134
Bolivar6302148
Union601294
Pike5815152
Alcorn5662101
Lincoln5431134
George496579
Scott472198
Tippah468381
Prentiss466581
Leflore4654144
Itawamba4628105
Adams4584119
Tate4579109
Copiah447792
Simpson4440116
Yazoo443687
Wayne439172
Covington428694
Sunflower4235105
Marion4225107
Coahoma4154104
Leake408088
Newton381679
Grenada3703108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359492
Attala331089
Jasper329565
Winston314091
Clay307676
Chickasaw299467
Clarke292194
Calhoun278945
Holmes267887
Smith263350
Yalobusha233347
Tallahatchie226851
Walthall218763
Greene218248
Lawrence212440
Perry205256
Amite204755
Webster202646
Noxubee186440
Montgomery179456
Jefferson Davis171442
Carroll168738
Tunica159439
Benton148438
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132237
Humphreys129238
Franklin119428
Quitman106428
Wilkinson104839
Jefferson94434
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 815989

Reported Deaths: 15311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1144621915
Mobile723961330
Madison52114694
Shelby37488348
Baldwin37167547
Tuscaloosa35013606
Montgomery34031734
Lee23177245
Calhoun22190476
Morgan20719376
Etowah19774497
Marshall18277302
Houston17333411
St. Clair15967339
Cullman15365292
Limestone15270198
Elmore15126284
Lauderdale14205294
Talladega13783276
DeKalb12598260
Walker11142369
Blount10132175
Autauga9910146
Jackson9819182
Coffee9190191
Dale8874185
Colbert8803201
Tallapoosa7063198
Escambia6755130
Covington6695184
Chilton6608161
Russell626659
Franklin5947105
Chambers5563142
Marion4966126
Dallas4902200
Clarke474083
Pike4722105
Geneva4567126
Winston4493103
Lawrence4286117
Bibb423686
Barbour356576
Marengo337489
Monroe330863
Randolph328263
Butler325396
Pickens314182
Henry311865
Hale310688
Cherokee301660
Fayette291379
Washington251151
Cleburne247160
Crenshaw244075
Clay241268
Macon231763
Lamar219547
Conecuh185753
Coosa179439
Lowndes174464
Wilcox167839
Bullock151644
Perry138440
Sumter132038
Greene126244
Choctaw87827
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